Covid cases rise in Asia as Delta wreaks havoc around the world

Jakarta (AFP)

Indonesia, Iran and France suffered an alarming increase in coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as governments rushed to vaccinate populations in a bid to overtake the highly contagious variant of the Delta which is wreaking havoc around the world whole.

The new cases come as the Olympics official on Tuesday admitted he suffered “sleepless” nights ahead of the Tokyo Games, which are due to open on Friday and already marred by epidemics.

Nearly 3.7 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered worldwide, but most of the injections have been given in richer countries while poorer countries are lagging behind in the race. inoculation.

And the highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is sweeping the world, causing new epidemics in Europe and Asia, especially among the unvaccinated, with more than four million deaths from the virus since the start of the virus. pandemic.

Indonesia has seen its number of cases spiral out of control, overtaking India and Brazil as a global coronavirus hotspot and reaching a new daily record of more than 1,300 deaths on Monday.

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Authorities have banned large crowds, including at traditional events on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha which often involve the sacrifice of cattle, and urged the public not to congregate for acts of worship religious.

In the capital Jakarta, some responded to an official request not to enter mosques but instead gathered to pray on nearby roads, while residents of Bandung laid out their prayer rugs in the alleys.

The rules set for a non-traditional vacation for some.

“I usually get together as a family for a meal on Eid,” said Pringgo Trikusumo, who lives near Jakarta.

“But this year is very different. I don’t see any parents and I can’t go anywhere.”

– Iran ‘fifth wave’ –

Much of Southeast Asia is currently reeling from a coronavirus wave, as the Delta variant wreaks havoc in countries struggling with vaccine deployment capabilities.

The Philippines has warned of an impending case explosion after detecting the Delta variant, while Thailand on Tuesday placed more than 12 million people under a two-week partial lockdown.

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Singapore, which has averted the worst of the pandemic, said on Tuesday it would limit the size of gatherings and ban dining at restaurants after a spike in locally transmitted cases linked to karaoke bars and a fishing port.

About a third of Vietnam’s 100 million people were placed under stay-at-home orders on Monday.

Iran, which has suffered the deadliest epidemic in the Middle East, was seized by what authorities warned it would be a “fifth wave” led by Delta.

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Government offices and banks in Tehran and neighboring Alborz province were closed for six days from Monday, while most non-essential stores as well as malls and cinemas were closed.

But some residents were skeptical that the restrictions would curb infections, without a nationwide lockdown in place.

“It will not be effective,” said Mehdi, an employee of a commercial company.

“If people stay home and don’t go anywhere, it might – but as soon as there is a vacation everyone starts traveling. “

– ‘Sleepless nights’ –

Europe itself is experiencing new epidemics, blamed in part on Delta but also on the relaxation of measures for the busy summer travel season.

France said on Tuesday that new Covid-19 infections were increasing at an unprecedented rate, after 18,000 cases were reported in the past 24 hours.

“We have an increase in the spread of the virus of around 150% last week: we have never seen this,” said French Minister of Health Olivier Veran.

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The level of infections is the highest since mid-May, when the country was emerging from a third national lockdown.

In a small positive news Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency announced that it had launched a “continuous review” of the French vaccine against the coronavirus Sanofi, which could lead to its approval in the EU, joining Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna , AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

The increase in cases around the world has cooled the mood ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which are expected to open on Friday after they were canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Scheduled to take place without spectators and with a cover of Covid rules in place, the preparation for the Games could not escape the pandemic.

Five people have already tested positive in the Olympic Village, raising fears that the influx of thousands of athletes, officials and media is adding to a spike in cases in Japan.

“Over the past 15 months we have had to make many decisions for very uncertain reasons. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and discussed. There were sleepless nights,” Bach said on Tuesday.

“It also weighed on us, it weighed on me. But to get to this day today, we had to give confidence, show a way out of this crisis.”

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